Tuscan elegance, and ‘real’ food.
MUST ORDER taglierini; tiramisu
AMBIANCE A good-night spark
SERVICE Funny and friendly
WOULD I GO BACK? Definitely, especially Grossi Florentino (Upstairs)
How refreshing to visit a restaurant that delivers food that is both classic, and delicious! Grossi Grill boasts premium, wood-fired food. These plates weren’t hiding behind fancy accents, or water views. With the appearance of a casual restaurant – minus the white tablecloths, professional smiles and fantastic cocktails – the Grill has a lively atmosphere. It filled up almost as soon as it opened at 5.30pm on a Saturday, with walk-ins overeager to snag a seat. Service was superbly patient, despite the booking system crashing, and the need to dodge each other constantly along the narrow runway separating the tables.
A Tuscan menu is not easy to come by in Sydney, but luckily I’ve got a bicep-builder-sized Guy Grossi cookbook on my bookshelf. Grossi’s family hospitality group owns a few Melbourne favourites, with the two-hatted Florentino (upstairs from the Grill) at its pinnacle.
To start, we had obligatory greens. 28-dollar cabbage is suspicious, but scrumptious. It was grilled and coated in a loving layer of crumble, served with lovage and a pecorino sauce that I wanted to take home in a bottle.
I wish more people would grill calamari, rather than fry it. This one was delicious, but under-grilled and ungenerous, with only two small segments and a few mini tentacles for $32 (compare with the price of the taglierini!) By contrast, there was plenty of squid ink and pickled radicchio on the plate.
The dish of the night was the taglierini ($32) with spanner crab (which was $44 for a main-sized plate). I still think about twirling those beautiful pasta strings, coated in bottarga, chilli and tomato. Technically speaking, the pasta was overcooked (nowhere near al dente), but I still loved it.
Surprisingly, the pappardelle ($30) was the only dish that wasn’t up to scratch. The pappardelle itself was too thick, and the wild boar ragu was worse than your mum’s Aussie bolognese – it had cubes of pork, with flavourless meat and no added flavour from the sauce, which needed herbs etc.
Tiramisu ($18) is an obligatory order in our family, and we shared it with no regrets. Unusually, the giant bowlful of tiramisu (a sight only the privileged kitchen staff normally lay eyes upon) was brought to our table, and a slice was plonked on a plate in plain sight. This was clearly to prove to us: ‘we made this the traditional way, and this entire bowl of tiramisu is in demand’ (it was less than half full). Well, it was bloody perfect. Not too alcoholic, with plenty more marscapone cream than savoiardi, not too much chocolate or sugar, and the confident voice of coffee. I could not fault this tiramisu. Sydney tiramisus, you lose.
You won’t walk away from Grossi feeling hungry or dissatisfied. The crossover of the affordable, à la carte, Grill restaurant menu, and the two-hatted Florentino upstairs restaurant is highly convenient. You can eat dishes from a two-hatted kitchen for average prices. Life hack.
Guy Grossi, you have me intrigued, and I can’t wait to come and visit Florentino Upstairs on my next trip to Melbourne.
Visit date: 10 August 2019